By PATRICK SLACK
Lastrup, Sobieski and Avon clinched spots in their respective division finals in the second week of the Victory League playoffs, July 13 – 14.
After both teams advanced past the first round with ease, Sobieski and Upsala met up for a third time this season in a West Division winners’ bracket game.
Nine innings wasn’t enough to determine the winner, with Sobieski ultimately prevailing 3-2 in 10 frames over the visiting Blue Jays, forcing Upsala into an elimination game.
Tyler Jendro held Upsala to two runs on a throwing error over nine innings, striking out 13, while Matt Swanson matched him for the Blue Jays.
With the game turned over to the bull pens, Sobieski then capitalized on a throwing error in the bottom of the 10th inning, claiming a spot in the division championship.
Aaron Hennes went 2-for-2 with a double and Beau Hanowski scored twice for the Skis.
Host Upsala took down Royalton 6-1 in its first-round contest, utilizing three hits from Adam Gerads and a home run by Matt Swanson to support eight innings of one-run ball thrown by John Fuchs.
Ryan Snyder had two hits and scored for Royalton.
Despite getting outhit 10-9, Sobieski eased past visiting Randall 8-1 in its playoff opener.
Isaac Smieja powered the Skis offensively with a homer and three RBIs.
Randall bounced back to eliminate host Royalton with a 6-0 shutout the following day, setting up a region play-in game with Upsala scheduled for July 20.
Kyle Peterschick blanked the Riverdogs over eight innings and went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs for Randall.
Jason Peterschick added three hits and three RBIs.
Lastrup, the top seed in the East Division, opened the postseason with a 7-1 home win over Harding, followed by a 7-4 victory over visiting Buckman.
Chad Weiss registered the complete-game win versus Harding, aided by three-hit performances from Brandon Lochner and Jason Sadlovsky.
Against Buckman, the Lakers turned to Scott Janson on the mound, who posted seven shutout innings to record the win.
Lochner collected three more hits to lead the Lastrup offense, with Rick Schlieman and Sadlovsky each picking up a pair of hits.
Buckman reached the division semifinals with a sound 16-3 win over the visiting Pierz Brewers, led by a 3-for-3 game at the plate by Joe Kahl.
Peter Suska reached base four times, while Mark Kahl struck out eight batters over seven innings to earn the win.
Chuck Boser homered for Pierz.
The Brewers bounced back with a 15-5 home win over Harding to keep its season alive, with Mike Weber going 4-for-6 and Logan Meyer homering and driving in four runs.
Curt Caughey went 3-for-4 with a double for Harding.
Buckman and the Pierz Brewers are scheduled to square off in a region play-in game, July 20.
Fort Ripley and Nisswa each won in the opening round of the North Division playoffs, before rain pushed back the winners’ bracket semifinals.
Fort Ripley took down visiting St. Mathias 6-3 on the strength of a 15-strikeout performance by starting pitcher Brett Kramer.
Logan Kalis posted the save with two scoreless innings to close out the game.
Rob Veith Jr. went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles at the plate for the Rebels.
Nisswa defeated visiting Freeport 7-1 in its first-round game, with Jeremiah Piepkorn slugging four hits and Jason Roepke tossing a complete game.
Freeport rebounded with a 9-5 home win over St. Mathias in an elimination game, using multi-hit games from Jason Tschida and Ryan Tschida to advance.
Fort Ripley and Nisswa are scheduled to play Friday, with the loser playing against Freeport, July 20.
Avon allowed only two runs over the weekend to reach the South Division finals, knocking off visiting St. Wendel 5-1 and host St. Stephen 12-1.
Scott Litchy carried Avon in the first round, striking out eight over eight innings on the mound and recording three hits at the plate.
Ace Kyle Collins took over against St. Stephen, fanning 10 hitters over seven innings to earn the win, with Taylor Holthaus and Carter Holthaus each supplying home runs.
St. Stephen clipped visiting Opole 6-5 in the first round, scoring two runs in the bottom of the ninth to edge the Bears on a walk-off single by Adam Tschumperlin.
Opole was then eliminated with a 2-0 defeat at St. Wendel, with Kyle Jarnot holding the Bears to two hits over eight innings for the Saints.
St. Wendel is scheduled to play St. Stephen, July 20.